Festival commerce set to boom as merchants predict a 12% increase in revenue over the next five years


Research released today by Barclaycard into the spending habits of UK festival-goers, reveals that pop-up commerce presents a growing opportunity for businesses, with those selling at live events benefiting from increased revenue, improved customer engagement and longer lasting loyalty.

The figures show that Brits are set to spend £1.2bn shopping in the festival fields this summer, with the average attendee shelling out £67 a day on food, fashion, merchandise and testing out experiences on-site.

With purchasing decisions driven by a desire for unique products that can’t be found elsewhere (80%), heightened emotions (73%), and open-mindedness (19%), merchants anticipate their sales will continue to rise. In fact, those present at live events expect their revenue to increase 12% over the next five years.

Almost four in 10 (37%) festival-goers now favour shopping on-site compared to online or the high street, while 31% consider events a better place to uncover new trends. Just under half (45%) also prefer the unusual product offering often found when browsing pop-up stalls.

An engaged audience (81%), space to create a memorable brand experience (80%), longer dwell times (67%) and a thirst for discovery (28%) are citied as the key factors encouraging Brits to spend while on-site. Central to this is the impact that watching live entertainment has on mood and feelings, with 73% of festival fans admitting this makes them more receptive to trying new products or brands.

Making memories is also increasingly important to Brits when deciding how to spend their money, with many keen to take away something extra from their festival experience. Four in 10 (41%) also state feeling more connected to the products they buy at a live event, over those made on the high street or online. 

Festivals are a fertile ground for business

With the festival industry currently worth over £2.46bn and 36% of Brits planning to attend a festival this summer, live events pose an increasingly lucrative opportunity for new and established brands.

To capitalise on this, the majority of merchants see festivals as fertile ground to trial new products and ideas (84%), with half (50%) testing products that they have later rolled out online or in store.

Of those that have used festivals as a testing ground, over four in five (84%) put this choice down to the open-mindedness of attendees, with the ability to receive direct feedback (83%) also ranking highly. In response, 80% of businesses have developed new ranges to cater for those looking for unusual and niche products.

The unique festival environment also gives increased precedence to ‘word of mouth’ recommendations, which seven in 10 (72%) merchants feel is very important for consumers when deciding what to buy.

From festival food to trying something new

Unsurprisingly, sustenance tops the list for how Brits are spending their money at festivals, with food and drink accounting for an average daily spend of £46 per person. But gone are the days of just beers and burgers, today’s festivals are serving up more exotic options, including thali (16%), fish curry (14%) and Kimchee (14%). Six per cent of festival-goers have even tested their taste buds by trying insects while on-site.

In the next two to three years, nine in 10 (91%) merchants also predict an even bigger interest in all things green, with more sustainable and plant-based products expected to be available at festivals. A wider variety of businesses selling on-site (72%) and more experience-based offerings such as comedy, yoga, silent discos and skills-based workshops (66%), as well as more fashion and homeware (52%) is also likely to be on offer.

Daniel Mathieson, head of sponsorship at Barclaycard, said: “Pop-up commerce is thriving across the UK festival scene, as brands compete to provide the ultimate fan experience. With more ways to engage audiences alongside demand for a deeper connection to the products they try and buy, festivals are becoming a fertile ground for all kinds of businesses to grow.

“In recent years we’ve also seen festivals start to offer dedicated event spaces to brands while providing activations on-site has also become increasingly popular. As festival spending looks set to rise, my advice to UK businesses is to explore the sales and marketing opportunities the UK live entertainment scene presents, or risk losing out to more savvy competitors.”

Joe Moruzzi, Pleesecakes, comments: “Festivals are hugely important to us and we continue to see a steady growth with our annual revenue which is hugely boosted from these. They give consumers the chance to meet us, find out more about where our products come from and the story behind our brand.

“In turn, festivals provide the opportunity to ask for direct feedback on new flavours or creations, making them the perfect environment for market research. We ensure the feedback we receive plays a vital role in shaping and growing our business.” 

To help people discover even more from their festival experience, Barclaycard has created a ‘Sensorium’ – an immersive structure that will take festival-goers at Barclaycard presents British Summer Time in Hyde Park (5-14 July) on a multi-sensory journey designed to open the mind and prime music fans for discovery.